Raising Kid Colt – Inside a Sandhill Crane Family

Kachemak Crane Watch’s new 35-minute video, Raising Kid Colt, was filmed over a span of two summers by amateur videographer, Nina Faust, who was able to film the intimate details of the lives of two Sandhill Cranes. During the summer of 2010, the crane pair investigated the lands on “Inspiration Ridge Preserve” near their house, identifying food sources, roosting sites, and a nesting area. They also learned to trust their neighbors, Nina and Kachemak Crane Watch co-founder, Edgar Bailey, as well as their seven pet geese and two pet alpacas.

In spring of 2011 the two Sandhill Cranes returned, and in early May, before the snow was even gone, they laid their two eggs on an island nest in one of the Preserve’s ponds. Because of the rapport established with the cranes the summer before, Nina was able to get remarkable footage of the family’s daily life over the whole summer until the family migrated with the other local Homer cranes. “Raising Kid Colt” provides viewers with seldom seen perspectives of raising crane colts, as well as a progression of colt development over the summer.

Of the project, Nina says:

The first year the cranes came to the property, 2010, they started hanging out with us at the pond by the aviary with the geese and the alpacas. We would just watch. Soon they were just sitting down in our midst and preening. When I took the alpacas for walks, the three of us could walk by the cranes without disturbing them. I also started filming them with my camera on my big tripod. I think they learned that I was a safe person as I stayed behind my tripod and always exited away from them on the opposite side of the tripod from where they were. Also, we always wear our white Tilley hats, so we are very recognizable. Over time, they became very nonchalant about our presence.

In 2011, they picked up where they had left off the previous summer. It was like they had never left. Once the colts hatched and they started coming up the field to the pond and the house, the colts accepted all of us just like the adults. They are not shy about just doing whatever they are doing around us and fairly close to us. I have been sitting in places where I was surprised at what they did. In the scene with the very close leg shots, they were confined by fence and alders. When they were done foraging there, they had walked out the lane of fence and alder to the field, leaving me sitting in the middle as I filmed the departure. When they reached the field, something out there scared them. They came right back toward me and as they approached, I thought, This is going to be interesting. I am like a rock in a stream. The adults went on either side of me with one colt each within 5 feet or less of me. I just sat still, rather awed. What incredible trust!

After putting lots of short videos on Youtube of the different behaviors, I began to think about how I could tell the story of this family and how they spend their time. At the time I was using iMovie. I bought Final Cut Pro X and started working on the tutorial to learn the program over winter. When I got back in January from a month’s trip Outside, I started to put the film together. With 2 summer’s of video footage, I had a lot of files to transfer into Final Cut Pro X and to go through to select the scenes to use. Altogether, it took roughly two months to put the actual video together.

Nina Faust, a retired High School teacher, taught at Homer High and various Anchorage high schools during her 21 years of teaching.  She lives on Inspiration Ridge Preserve in Homer with her partner Ed Bailey where she actively clicker trains her two pet alpacas, Gypsy and Canela.  She and Ed are co-founders of Kachemak Crane Watch, which is dedicated to the protection of Sandhill Cranes and their habitat in Homer, Alaska and the surrounding Kachemak Bay area.  She is also active with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and a variety of local conservation groups.


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